Nanostructures may lead to faster, smaller, and more energy efficient computing devices

January 18th, 2010 - 5:52 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, January 18 (ANI): Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have said that building microscopic materials known as superlattices on the surface of gold may lead to a treasure for researchers interested in faster, smaller, and more energy efficient computing devices.

Dr. Jay A. Switzer and his colleagues at Missouri S and T have said that they have constructed a type of superlattice that shows “unique low-to-high and high-to-low resistance switching that may be applicable to the fabrication of an emerging memory device known as resistive random access memory,” or RRAM.

With RRAM, a material that is normally insulating can be made to conduct through a filament or conduction path formed after a high enough voltage is applied.

Superlattices are nanometer-scale structures made up of two materials layered on top of each other, like the alternating bread and meat in a club sandwich.

A nanometer - visible only with the aid of a high-power electron microscope - is one billionth of a meter, and some nanomaterials are only a few atoms in size.

By experimenting with materials at the nanometer level, researchers find that even common materials exhibit unusual properties.

For example, metals developed at the nanometer scale may have fewer defects and could lead to stronger materials for construction.

Semiconductors and magnetic materials developed at the nanometer scale may have different properties than the bulk material.

At Missouri S and T, Switzer and his colleagues produced two types of superlattices - known as defect-chemistry and compositional superlattices - from the materials magnetite and zinc ferrite.

They then “grew” the materials on the single-crystal gold placed in a beaker filled with a solution.

According to Switzer, the superlattices grown via the defect-chemistry method appear to hold promise for RRAM devices because the resistance of the superlattice is a function of the applied bias.

The fact that multiple resistance states can be accessed by simply varying the applied voltage opens up new possibilities for multi-bit data storage and retrieval. (ANI)

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